Part of my childhood, the earlier part, I was pretty well off, but my dad was unemployed while I was in high school and college, and things were really tough at times. At that age, I found it really difficult, especially when I was surrounded by much more affluent peers.
Originally Posted by Snake_Lady
- there is NO shame in going to foodbanks
- there is NO shame in going to secondhand store
You said it, right there. Those are the two big ones, for me, with an aside: I discovered that while it's possible to eat healthy on a shoestring budget, our culture and economy is really geared against it... as my spouse said the other day, McDonald's is cheap because it's all made from govt. subsidized food (there's corn or corn oil in everything, even the beef because the cows eat the corn...)
But secondhand stores... wow. I learned that you can find really awesome deals on good clothing, especially at the goodwill stores. I'm a musician... I got my first two tuxedos used for around $50... (at Ardvark's in the Haight in SF)... even now I buy lots of things on eBay, and not just clothing.
Taking care of your stuff, rather than buying new stuff... that one I've kept with me, with a degree of tenacity that amazes some of my friends. I only own cars that I can do most or all of the maintenance and repairs on without having to pay a mechanic (that has its ups and downs, but i'm proud of it). I've done some insane computer repairs... Apple quoted me $900 to fix the dying backlight in my old iBook's display, but the new fluorescent light tube was only $12, so I installed it myself, which involved taking apart the entire top half of the laptop and removing the backlight panel from the LCD... a hair raising experience, but it saved me $888 and kept my computer viable for another year.
I learned the true value of the Library, both for useful information and for entertainment. Of course, your mileage may vary by location... Most of the movies I watch are still from the library (and because of that, I do without cable TV).
I also learned the true value of the internet and of search engines... and of keeping a computer that's sufficiently up-to-date. Oh, and I learned a lot about *Free Software*... not pirated, the actual free kind. Linux operating systems instead of Windows, OpenOffice instead of Microsoft Office... for the better part of a year, which i think was in 1998-1999, I did the vast majority of my computing on a 25mhz 486 PC, running slackware linux, and mostly using the command line instead of x-windows. And I'm very proud of that.
Most of all, I learned the value of higher education, which my dad didn't have, despite vast knowledge and skill in his field (computer technology, misc).
I'm glad I had the experience of being poor during my late-childhood... not to say that I'm glad that I was poor, but the experience taught me a lot of the things that make my quality of living better than it would otherwise be on the money I earn.